Brain Waves Blog

Web Standards

Author: Webmastermind Team, Published: 2009-6-10

Web Standards

What are web standards?
Web standards are the basic guidelines to which the web’s guiding body, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), recommend that web-designers build their websites.

Why have web standards?
During the late 1990s as Internet access became more commonplace, Microsoft and Netscape were entering into greater competition with their respective browser software. As part of this competition, they would offer different support for the web coding languages in the hope that they could attract more users to use their software. The result was that the browsers interpreted websites very differently: there were no guarantees that the browsers would translate it in the same way.

To resolve this issue, the W3C put forward their guidelines to encourage both browser manufactures and web-designers to conform to a central standard that would promote the development of websites that were easily accessible by all.
Why are web standards important to your business?
Adhering to web standards is the way to ensure that your company website is accessible to the widest demographic possible; this includes users who have special needs such as the blind or people with a physical disability. The simple fact of the matter is that meeting the guidelines set by the W3C is the best way to make sure that your website is available to everyone.

While most websites pander to the majority of web users and make use of technologies such as Macromedia Flash, there is an increasing legal opposition to websites that do not meet W3C’s suggested standards. Under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, discrimination is strictly forbidden on any grounds; as such, businesses are required to show a reasonable effort to prevent their goods and services from being unavailable to users of any range of abilities – this also covers websites. To this extent, businesses are increasingly expected to conform to web standards.

What does your business have to do to be standards compliant?
Choose carefully! What most web-designers won’t tell you is that most of the software used to make websites does not comply with standards; especially if it is an older version. Many are very concerned with making your site very attractive or adding many fancy but extraneous features and not on making your site accessible to as many people as possible.

It is important that you specify clearly when requesting your website that you want standards compliance and that, when the finished article is presented to you, you check it with the validators on the W3C website (http://www.w3.org) and Cynthia (http://www.contentquality.com) - when using the W3C website, you should receive no error messages and, when using Cynthia, your website should conform to at last single-A standard.

Meeting these requirements and producing an effective yet accessible website should not be a difficult task for a qualified web-designer but it is necessary for the promotion of your goods and services and the meeting of your legal observation that you find one that can provide the level of service your company deserves.



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